Freckles was the first single from Belfast-born artist Mima Merrow, released ahead of her debut EP, Good Grief. I have had the track on repeat since it came out and now I would quite like you all to listen to it, too.
It starts softly, a repeated piano refrain which starts doing things to me emotionally the moment the left hand notes appear. The chorus melody appears first: melancholy, but light, not too heavy - the vocals, sung in a high register, almost float over the piano line. I feel like ghosts from the past are singing their history to me. I also feel like I know where the song is going, but I'm wrong.
This melody segues immediately into a spoken word vocal which is, for me, one of the most flawless executions of this style I have ever heard. I wasn't expecting it at all on my first listen, but as Mima Merrow proves on her debut EP, she is nothing if not versatile. Her delivery is flawless, the words delivered with exactly the right amount of emotional intensity, pitch, and clarity on every line, and the use of language itself is absolutely outstanding. I seldom pick up lyrics on the first listen of a track - I'm an instrumental musician at heart myself, and that's my first language when I engage with new music as a listener. The lyrics to Freckles are something special, though: beginning as a poetic ode to an almost lost heritage, taking us through an intense need to connect with that heritage, and resolving with acceptance that this connection is and always has been there; some things can't be taken away from you: "I am the beauty of my empty lineage, the weed that grows among the wreckage."
The lyrics themselves deliver blistering criticism one moment: "...of stolen language, rights, myths and stories that became inventory for the expanding territories, dissolved and diluted in colonial labratories... the potency removed, the residue sold in saintly allegories" and "told to be smaller, quieter, less," and in the next, offer solace in beautiful imagery of the wild: "the wolf sends my howl into the celestial light, I dance as a dandelion and take rest as the hovering kite." There's a delicate melody on a glockenspiel which threads in and out of the song, adding a music box feel to the piece. (It's gorgeous, and sad, and distant: it sounds like the way stars look.) And in a sense, the song is its own music box; listening to it feels like peeling back the lid and stealing a glance at an older time.
The piano line, steady, repeated, feels like the foundation on which the song is built. That haunting chorus melody is singing to me from a different time. I feel like I'm wandering through ruins, hearing the ghosts on the wind. And the spoken verses bridge these two things beautifully, providing me with exactly what the artist seemed to be searching for at the start of the song: connection. As soon as it finished, I hit replay. It moved me more the second time I heard it, and more again on the third.
This track is astonishingly beautiful, moves me in ways I can barely make sense of, and is an easy contender for my top 10 songs of the year. Fall in love with it today: Mima Merrow is on Bandcamp, Spotify, and all the usual platforms.